OMG! The Age of Trump Is upon Us

UPDATE (11/11, 10:47 am EST): Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is now about 400,000 and according to David Leonhardt of the New York Times, the lead is likely to increase to as much as 2 million votes by the time all the votes are counted.

Here’s a little thought experiment for you to ponder. Suppose that the outcome of yesterday’s election had been reversed and Hillary Clinton emerged with 270+ electoral votes but trailed Donald Trump by 200,000 popular votes. What would the world be like today? What would we be hearing from Trump and his entourage about the outcome of the election? I daresay we would be hearing about “second amendment remedies” from many of the Trumpsters. I wonder how that would have played out.

(As I write this, I am hearing news reports about rowdy demonstrations in a number of locations against Trump’s election. Insofar as these demonstrations become violent, they are certainly deplorable, but nothing we have heard from Clinton and her campaign or from leaders of the Democratic Party would provide any encouragement for violent protests against the outcome of a free election.)

But enough of fantasies about an alternative universe; in the one that we happen to inhabit, the one in which Donald Trump is going to be sworn in as President of the United States in about ten weeks, we are faced with this stark reality. The American voters, in their wisdom, have elected a mountebank (OED: “A false pretender to skill or knowledge, a charlatan: a person incurring contempt or ridicule through efforts to acquire something, esp. social distinction or glamour.”), a narcissistic sociopath, as their chief executive and head of state. The success of Trump’s demagogic campaign – a campaign repackaging the repugnant themes of such successful 20th century American demagogues as Huey Long, Father Coughlin and George Wallace (not to mention not so successful ones like the deplorable Pat Buchanan) — is now being celebrated by Trump apologists and Banana Republican sycophants as evidence of his political genius in sensing and tapping into the anger and frustrations of the forgotten white working class, as if the anger and frustration of the white working class has not been the trump card that every two-bit demagogue and would-be despot of the last 150 has tried to play. Some genius.

I recently overheard a conversation between a close friend of mine who is a Trump supporter and a non-Trump supporter. My friend is white, but is not one of the poorly educated of whom Trump is so fond, holding a Ph.D. in physics, and being well read and knowledgeable about many subjects. Although he doesn’t like Trump, he is very conservative and can’t stand Clinton, so he decided to vote for Trump without any apparent internal struggle or second thoughts. One of his reasons for favoring Trump is his opposition to Obamacare, which he blames for the very large increase in premiums he has to pay for the medical insurance he gets through his employer. When it was pointed out to him that it is unlikely that the increase in his insurance premiums was caused by Obamacare, his response was that Obamacare has added to the regulations that insurance companies must comply with, so that the cost of those regulations is ultimately borne by those buying insurance, which means that his insurance premiums must have gone up because of Obamacare.

Since I wasn’t part of the conversation, I didn’t interrupt to point out that the standard arguments about the costs of regulation being ultimately borne by consumers of the regulated product don’t necessarily apply to markets like health care in which customers don’t have good information about whether suppliers are providing them with the services that they need or are instead providing unnecessary services to enrich themselves. In such markets, third-parties (i.e., insurance companies) supposedly better informed than patients about whether the services provided to patients by their doctors are really serving the patients’ interests, and are really worth the cost of providing those services, can help protect the interests of patients. Of course, the interests of insurance companies aren’t necessarily aligned very well with the interests of their policyholders either, because insurance companies may prefer not to pay for treatments that it would be in the interests of patients to receive.

So in health markets there are doctors treating ill-informed patients whose bills are being paid by insurance companies that try to monitor doctors to make sure that doctors do not provide unnecessary services and treatments to patients. But since the interests of insurance companies may be not to pay doctors to provide services that would be beneficial to patients, who is going to protect policyholders from the insurance companies? Well, um, maybe the government should be involved. Yes, but how do we know if the government is doing a good job or bad job of looking out for the interests of patients? I don’t think that we know the answer to that question. But Obamacare, aside from making medical insurance more widely available to people who need it, is an attempt to try to make insurance companies more responsive to the interests of their policyholders. Perhaps not the smartest attempt, by any means, but given the system of health care delivery that has evolved in the United States over the past three quarters of a century, it is not obviously a step in the wrong direction.

But even if Obamacare is not working well, and I have no well thought out opinion about whether it is or isn’t, the kind of simple-minded critique that my friend was making seemed to me to be genuinely cringe-worthy. Here is a Ph.D. in physics making an argument that sounded as if it were coming straight out of the mouth of Sean Hannity. OMG! The dumbing down of America is being expertly engineered by Fox News, and, boy, are they succeeding. Geniuses, that’s what they are. Geniuses!

When I took my first economics course almost a half century ago and read the greatest economics textbook ever written, University Economics by Armen Alchian and William Allen, I was blown away by their ability to show how much sloppy and muddled thinking there was about how markets work and how controls that prevent prices from allocating resources don’t eliminate destructive or wasteful competition, but rather shift competition from relatively cheap modes like offering to pay a higher price or to accept a lower price to relatively costly forms like waiting in line or lobbying a regulator to gain access to a politically determined allocation system.

I have been a fan of free markets ever since. I oppose government intervention in the economy as a default position. But the lazy thinking that once led people to assume that government regulation is the cure for all problems now leads people to assume that government regulation is the cause of all problems. What a difference half a century makes.


36 Responses to “OMG! The Age of Trump Is upon Us”

  1. 1 Jason Smith November 9, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I definitely attest to the fact that a physics Phd is no defense against lazy partisanship (or sexism, or racism, or any other human failing). I am not sure where I heard it first, but being “smart” can be a curse where you find post hoc rationalizations for whatever it is you already believe.

    Since economics has political implications, it short-circuits many physics Phds’ critical thinking skills. I think physics phd’s (and math phd’s) may actually be the least suited to handle economics because there are so few political implications of quantum field theory. They (we) lack practice. Give them an abstract vector space, and they’re fine. Tell them that a vector in that abstract space represents equilibrium prices, and they’re suddenly re-inventing some defunct labor theory of value.


  2. 2 asiahack November 9, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Probably not part of the ultimate point you were trying to make, but one that does mean your friend’s point was not wrong. obamacare, via its reimbursement policies, has given incentives for consolidation in the health care system, particularly among hospitals. Some of those hospitals now have greater market power, particularly in smaller areas without competition, that have driven prices for all. This is particularly true for employer-purchased plans.


  3. 3 Max November 10, 2016 at 1:25 am

    You might be amused to know that Trump actually wrote

    “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country! More votes equals a loss…revolution!”

    …in 2012, when it briefly appeared that Romney could lose while getting more votes.

    (Source: )

    Not that anything would have happened. The “Second Amendment” people have more bark than bite.


  4. 4 Becky Hargrove November 10, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Populists are able to give small towns (such as my own) hope, because the elite are not paying attention to what is almost a complete loss of free market activity in many of these places. It’s difficult to imagine what Trump has to offer, for so many around me who voted for him. But by the same token, I got no response when Obama first entered office and I pleaded with him (two handwritten letters, prior to my online days), not to forget what was playing out in rural America.


  5. 5 peterschaeffer November 10, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    The best (in my opinion) health care system in the world is in Singapore. Regulation is very intensive and successful. Singapore has excellent results (outcomes) and spends (far) less than almost any other (relatively rich) country in the world. The U.S. combines the worst of welfare state entitlement with private sector rapacity. Predictably, the U.S. has the highest costs in the world (and not the best outcomes). Lots of data shows that outcomes are only partially determined by policy so Singapore’s superior medical results are not proof that Singapore’s system is better than the U.S. (or anywhere else). However, the cost savings are very, very real.

    Of course, Obama did promise “you can keep your doctor, you can keep your insurance, your premiums will go down”. Politfact ranked Obama’s statement as “the lie of the year”. Your PhD friend has every reason to be upset. For the record, the last American president who controlled health care costs was Bill Clinton. Bush and Obama were disasters. In the early, 1990s the Democrats were very good about controlling health care costs. Then they fell for the Nelene Fox hoax…

    More broadly, the “Party of Davos” has (mis)ruled this country for decades. The consequences have been dismal. Time for a change.


  6. 6 David Glasner November 10, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Jason, I know a few physics Ph.Ds. Some have more versatile brains than others. But I still find it disconcerting that a physicist could be reduced to regurgitating Hannity’s talking points.

    asiahack,You make a fair point. Hospital consolidations are often anticompetitive and harmful to the rest of society. If Obamacare has been encouraging anticompetitive consolidations of market power in the health care sector, that’s certainly a reason to fix it, but not necessarily a reason to repeal it. But I have no specific opinion about whether Obama care should or should not be repealed.

    Max, Gee, You mean Trump contradicts himself?

    Becky, I wrote a post a long time ago about how the interstate highway system helped depopulate rural America. That was a tragedy. But I don’t know how to turn the clock back? What do you think Obama could have done that would have done to revive rural America economically?

    Peter, My impression is that health care costs are now rising more slowly than they have in decades. The insurance premiums are not rising because costs are rising as much as because not enough healthy people have been signing up, causing the insurance exchanges to suffer from adverse selection. The penalties on healthy people for not signing up have been too small to encourage enough healthy people to sign up to keep premiums from rising excessively.


  7. 7 peterschaeffer November 10, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    in real life, health care inflation has taken off in recent years. See BLS series CUUR0000SAM for the details. Of course, the correct measure isn’t health care inflation per se, but the delta between general inflation (BLS series CUUR0000SA0) and health care inflation. From 1993-2000 (Clinton) health care inflation was 1.375% higher than general inflation. From 2001-2008 (Bush) health care inflation was 1.25% higher than general inflation (a big surprise to me). From 2009-2016 (Obama) health care inflation has been 1.9375% greater than general inflation. In the last 12 month period (for which we have data), health care inflation has been 3.4% higher than general inflation. Note that in absolute terms, health care inflation is higher now (4.9% for the period ending 9/2016) than for any comparable period going back to 1993. However, general inflation was higher back in 1993 making the health care differential rate lower.

    The failure of the Obama administration to control health care costs has many roots. Of course, the Nelene Fox hoax continues to play a role. Close ties between Democrats and trial lawyers remain a problem. The war on the HMOs remains a problem. That said, the Republicans are hardly blameless. Republicans (perhaps not Trump) suffer from a blind “free market” idolatry that makes any interference with private profits unthinkable. Of course, the whole “death panels” meme was Republican.

    At a deeper level the real problem is that the Democrats (and the Republicans) don’t care about health care costs. Obama has steadfastly ignored the issue. The Bush/Kennedy Medicare Plan D folly is a sad (but typical) example of how both parties fail the American people. Kennedy embraced the deal because he only cared about expanding the welfare state. Neither he nor any other Democrat (exceptions may exist) insisted on any way of paying for Medicare Plan D. Bush demanded and got explicit language in the bill banning any attempt on the part of the government to negotiate lower drug prices (although drugs are subject to vast economies of scale). The Ds got a major expansion of the welfare state and the Rs got a “free market” in drugs. The public got debt, deficits, and uncontrolled drug price inflation.

    As for insurance costs, what you appear to be arguing is that health care costs have continued to rise dramatically thereby raising insurance rates. However, rising costs (and consequently insurance rates) should have been disguised by healthy people signing up to the insurance exchanges but that hasn’t happened.

    As for helping rural America, eliminating the trade deficit would be a material plus. Most exportable goods (but not services) are produced in rural or suburban locales.


  8. 8 Becky Hargrove November 11, 2016 at 5:36 am

    These recent “closed economy” arguments (at the national level) could be negated if services production could be brought to rural economies. Globalization needs to continue, for tradable sector production and services that are not directly connected to time and location. However, think about the current structure for important knowledge/time based services production, versus educational realities. Imagine local K-12 education as a business endeavour, in the business of preparing human capital for the marketplace. Presently, this enterprise has incredible resource access for instance (property taxation) to build human capital product. But instead of selling the immense resource capacity of focused classroom efforts to the marketplace, only a fraction of it is (ultimately after more education) given over to prosperous regions. That means K-12 as a business enterprise creates lots of product which is never sold. The way to sell it is to create local services production, so that human capital building becomes a profitable enterprise, with the newly created commodity of time value as a locally viable unit of wealth.


  9. 9 David Glasner November 11, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Peter, You are correct that for purposes of measuring the cost of health care, it is appropriate to adjust for the overall rate of inflation. I would also tend to agree with your comments about the roles that both parties have played in driving up health care costs. Concerning insurance costs, you said:

    “[W]hat you appear to be arguing is that health care costs have continued to rise dramatically thereby raising insurance rates. However, rising costs (and consequently insurance rates) should have been disguised by healthy people signing up to the insurance exchanges but that hasn’t happened.”

    That’s not at all what I was arguing. What I am arguing is that an insurance market doesn’t work if there is adverse selection so that low risk (healthy) people leave the market and only high-risk sick people are left in the insurance pool. There’s a big difference between those two scenarios.

    Becky, Thanks for your comment. The problem is that as the tradable sector shrinks it becomes increasingly hard to sustain the non-tradable sector. An economy needs to have something that it can export, otherwise it becomes marginalized.


  10. 10 Becky Hargrove November 11, 2016 at 8:59 am

    David, You’re right, and I’ve emphasized the tradable sector shrinking problem (which is already beginning to occur) in multiple posts. My thought is – by turning basic time value into a commodity which internally completes the cycle of wealth creation (as Adam Smith emphasized) – it can become a local tradable sector component. Matched time value would not only create new wealth, it would assume the same first mover (“maker”) position which the tradable sector is normally responsible for. Since local populations would be able to contribute to tradable sector balances in this fashion, they could gradually build on more traditional tradable sector formation as well, through building their own services production supply structure. At least, that’s what I’ve been working on.


  11. 11 Shahid November 11, 2016 at 11:47 am

    David, i really don’t have much to say except that this event has left me badly shaken. Its not just Trump’s victory, but what is more puzzling is how the US voter fell for this guy? Playing on the fears and misgivings of white folks, especially the uneducated one’s, is just a part of the story. There must be something deeper going on in the US, its society and in the minds of its voters. This is not the America that i remember. I spent about 7 years before returning to my homeland after completing my education. In those years, i experienced a friendly, vibrant and conscious America with friendly people. And that is what has always led me to defend America’s people despite the stupidities of people like George W. and Trump.

    Remember that i am from a country (Pakistan) where hatred for US runs strong. During this campaign, i kept assuring everyone that there is little chance that Trump will win since i know that the people of America would never elect a bigot, racist and an idiot. But now i am silent, and cannot say much when i am mocked for what just happened in US. I now have to beat a retreat. David, frankly, what’s going on over there? This is not the country that i remember. That was some different place, a place where i found love, affection and tolerance. So why Trump?

    I think it was George Carlin who said something about not underestimating the power of stupid people in groups. Has that kind of power overtaken the society in US?


  12. 12 Henry November 11, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    “……not underestimating the power of stupid people in groups. Has that kind of power overtaken the society in US?”


    This is probably a reasonable thing to say. However, which group of stupid people are we talking about?

    I think it is arguable that Clinton and the Democrats (except perhaps for Sanders) did not see coming what happened in the election. I understand Clinton did not visit the rust belt states after the Democrat Convention – these people were taken for granted. What got Trump over the line was the significant numbers of disaffected, previously Democrat voters in the rust belt states who defected to Trump. OK, the Hispanics didn’t come out in numbers for Clinton as expected. OK, Trump got more of the women’s vote than expected. But the states that changed hands were the rust belt states. And it seems to me that being able to pay for a quality education in the US, you probably come from a position of relative privilege, perhaps I have this wrong. I’m guessing that you, like the Clinton Democrats and the educated classes, don’t understand the pain and frustration of those disenfranchised by globalization. I dare say you have benefited from and are a product of globalization.

    Did Trump cynically hitch his wagon to this disaffected group or is he genuinely concerned with their plight? Will the Republican controlled Congress allow him to act in a way it perceives as inimical to its interests? We will see soon enough.

    While globalization has driven the distribution of wealth around the globe and within nations over the last 40 years or so, unwinding it at this point in time probably won’t help much.

    Robotization will begin to shift the balance of wealth distribution again, probably back towards the western economies. Those who will see the gains will be the already monied classes and the educated classes, initially. With time as robots come to design robots, even the educated classes will become redundant.

    And then the question through all of this will be, who will have the income to consume the output of a global robotized production system?


  13. 13 peterschaeffer November 12, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Shahid, I would guess that in the time you were in the USA you met people who profited from misrule by the cosmopolitan elite. You never saw or met the people who lost their jobs and (in some cases) their lives from the failures of the elite. You never met the workers whose jobs were shipped off to China or Mexico. You never met the construction workers (of all races) who are unemployed because of illegals. You never met the children of the poor who can’t go to college because of racial quotas. You never met the parents who don’t have a public school for their children because of Open Borders. You never met the people who think Miley Cyrus is disgusting rather than cute.

    In America, even those left-behind get to vote. They did. Trump (based on exit polls) did considerably better than McCain/Romney in getting Black and Hispanic votes. This was a revolt of the non-elites (of all races) against those profiting from the status quo. Conversely, the Democrats ran the worst possible candidate and thought that they could get away with it. Many of the things Donald Trump said weren’t entirely true. His endless refrain “Crooked Hillary” was. Hillary was literally (not figuratively and in constant dollars) 1000+ times as corrupt as Richard Nixon. It was madness for her to run for president and crazy for the Democratic party to let her.


  14. 14 Shahid November 12, 2016 at 11:08 am

    @ Henry @peterschaeffer Thank you for your explanations, gentlemen. As Americans, you’d know more about the country than i do. But i do have a comment or two. In my time, i did manage to travel a bit around the USA and found the views of those living in cities and rural areas to be on completely different planes. Their thought patterns and how they viewed everything around them were pretty divergent. I wonder whether that played any part in what happened.

    And peterschaeffer, i am not denying the things you stated, about the job losses and everything. But what does Trump have to reverse that? Is he going to force American companies operating outside of US to shut shop and return to America? On a lighter note, you appear to me to be a die hard Republican 🙂 Not taking this against you, just a comment.


  15. 15 David Glasner November 12, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Shahid, Thanks for your comment. There were so many factors affecting the outcome of this election, but I would imagine that as a Pakistani you and your countrymen have been especially concerned about the hostility that Trump has shown towards Muslims in the US and around the world. While I understand why many Americans feel that President Obama (actually following his predecessor’s practice) has tried to avoid using the term “Islamic terrorism” or even “radical Islamic terrorism” and that Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric conveyed to them a seriousness of purpose that they thought was lacking in Obama, I am afraid that Trump’s rhetorical line will only inflame anti-American and anti-Western sentiment and make it more difficult for pro-Western and pro-American Muslims to oppose the extremists. So I am very much afraid that Trump is going to be Osama bin Laden’s dream come true.

    Shahid, many of us are as appalled as you are with the outcome of this election. I have never been more afraid for the future of my country.

    Henry, I did not follow Hillary’s comings and goings, but I am certain that Hillary did spend a lot of time in rust belt states. It’s almost certain, given that Hillary already has a lead of about 600,000 in the popular vote (which will almost certainly keep growing as all the votes are tallied) that the outcome was determined by FBI Director James Comey’s untimely intervention about 10 days before the election. I think Comey is an honest man, but I think it was a horrible lapse of judgment on his part, driven by a group of insubordinate FBI staffers who were determined to do anything they could to subvert Clinton. Trump cried “rigged,” but it was his supporters that did the rigging.

    Peter, Few of the things Trump said were even partially true. He may have done slightly better than McCain or Romney with Blacks and Hispanics, but only slightly, so don’t try to overplay a poor hand. I agree that Hillary was a bad candidate whose record of honesty and integrity was far from impeccable. To say that she is 1000+ times as corrupt as Nixon is amazingly far-fetched, if not absurd. What, pray tell, are you using as a metric for corruption. I was hoping that Biden would be the Democratic candidate, but unfortunately circumstances were such that he could not offer himself as an alternative, and Hillary’s weaknesses did not become fully apparent until it was too late.


  16. 16 peterschaeffer November 14, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Shadid, I left the Republican party more than 10 years ago while Bush was president. Bush was a failure in everything he did and the willingness of other Republicans to defend him appalled me. As a consequence, I have no use for people like George Will who consistently defended Bush, but suddenly discovered that they had no place in the party of Trump.


  17. 17 peterschaeffer November 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Mr. Glasner, Hillary stayed out of the Rust Belt states, a point much noted by her critics inside the Democratic party since the election. She took them for granted. See “How the Rustbelt Paved Trump’s Road to Victory – The president-elect won by locking in support from traditional “blue wall” states Hillary Clinton thought were in her corner.” ( Read the article and see who the author is. Not a Republican to be sure.


  18. 18 David Glasner November 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Mr. Schaeffer, I voted for Bush in 2000, but I voted for Kerry in 2004, even though I had no particular liking for him, because I believed that failure — abject and willful failure — should not be rewarded. So I share your disdain for Bush and his defenders, but it is folly to assume that Trump’s dislike of Bush means that he is qualified to hold any public office.

    It seemed quite implausible to me that Clinton would have not campaigned in rust belt states, but I guess the implausible is sometimes true. After all, it is totally implausible that a man like Trump could become President of the United States.


  19. 19 peterschaeffer November 15, 2016 at 7:53 am

    A bit more. See “How Clinton lost ‘blue wall’ states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin” ( Quotes

    “In Wisconsin, where Clinton didn’t make a single stop during the general election campaign, she won voters under 30 by just 4 points. Obama won them by 23 points four years ago. The state voted Republican for the first time since 1984.”

    ““It’s is nothing short of malpractice that her campaign didn’t look at the electoral college and put substantial resources in states like Michigan and Wisconsin,” says Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. Neither President Barack Obama nor the first lady was dispatched to Wisconsin, either.”

    So why did Hillary ignore the Rust Belt? Part of it was simple complacency. She took it for granted these states would vote for her. However, there was something deeper as well. The Hillary people are/were deeply hostile to anyone outside of their “Emerging Democratic Majority”. To them, white blue-collar workers who have been devastated by “free trade” and Open Borders are simply trash human beings deserving only of a trip down the toilet bowl. The Hillary people were never shy on this point (“deplorables”, “irredeemables”, etc.) and they practiced what they preached.


    “As I wrote last week, there were some rumbles that Clinton’s team had taken too much for granted by pouring so much effort into Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina, three swing states she did not need to win—and ultimately did not. The price of that emphasis was extraordinarily little attention to Michigan and Wisconsin, which she did need to win, and also did not. The prescience prize may go to Brent McGoldrick, co-founder of the Republican voter targeting firm Deep Root Analytics, who told me just days before the vote: “This strategy does leave her exposed, particularly in Wisconsin.””

    “Yet that explanation doesn’t fully explain the outcome. Clinton also lost in Pennsylvania, which she pursued with enormous resources, including an unprecedented final weekend barrage that deployed to the state such stars as Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, and President and Michelle Obama. More drove this result than tactics.”

    See also “Bill Clinton’s lonely, one-man effort to win white working-class voters” ( Quotes

    “For Hillary Clinton’s chief strategists, the unique challenge of reconciling working-class and white rural frustrations with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy proved too difficult a riddle, and they chose in the end to focus their efforts elsewhere, much to Bill Clinton’s reported protestation.

    The former president saw early during the Democratic primary that his wife had a real problem connecting with these voters, many of whom overwhelmingly preferred Sanders’ message on jobs and trade.

    Bill Clinton reportedly warned the campaign that they needed to address the issue immediately, but “his advice fell on deaf ears,” according to the New York Times.

    Hillary Clinton’s 36-year-old campaign manager, Robby Mook, dismissed the advice of the 70-year-old former president as the ravings of an aged athlete desperate to regain his former glory, and insisted instead that young, Latino and black voters were the key to winning 2016.

    “Bill Clinton had railed … for months” against the campaign’s disinterest in the working-class, “wondering aloud at meetings why the campaign was not making more of an attempt to even ask that population for its votes,” Politico reported.

    “Bill Clinton’s viewpoint of fighting for the working-class white voters was often dismissed with a hand wave by senior members of the team as a personal vendetta to win back the voters who elected him, from a talented but aging politician who simply refused to accept the new Democratic map,” the report added. “At a meeting ahead of the convention at which aides presented to both Clintons the ‘Stronger Together’ framework for the general election, senior strategist Joel Benenson told the former president bluntly that the voters from West Virginia were never coming back to his party.””

    “On the exact opposite side of things, Hillary Clinton handed the GOP and its supporters a rallying cry in September when she claimed at a fundraiser in New York City that “half” of Trump’s supporters were “irredeemable” bigots.

    She said later at a campaign rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., “I am sick and tired of the negative, dark, divisive, dangerous vision and behavior of people who support Donald Trump.”

    Despite these polarizing remarks, Hillary Clinton’s husband fought right up to the end to convince white working-class and rural voters that the Democratic nominee, who never once campaigned in Wisconsin, understood their concerns.

    He failed.”


  20. 20 peterschaeffer November 15, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Mr. Glasner, I don’t believe in rewarding failure. Which is why I voted against Hillary. Hillary was the latest incarnation of the failed Bush/Obama cosmopolitan elite. Under Bush/Obama (in truth Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama) America has lost its way in the world. The list of failures is long and miserable. Iraq, Afghanistan, imperial overreach, trade, inequality, immigration, multiculturalism, family life, racism, sexism, science denial, health care, drug addiction, debt, deficits, Goldman, Wall Street, the housing bubble, etc.

    In Hillary-land that’s all OK (“America is already great”). In my view it is not. A vote for Hillary was a vote for the failed status quo. Just say no.


  21. 21 David Glasner November 15, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Mr. Schaeffer, As usual, you exaggerate promiscuously. But even if we stipulate to your phony bill of particulars, failure — in this election — was by far the best alternative.


  22. 22 Benjamin Cole November 15, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Trump is a boor, and Reagan was courtly.

    Yet, on the big economic basics they are the same: Big deficits, big military spending, tax cuts on upper marginal rates, and some protectionism (Reagan’s protectionism will probably be larger than Trump’s). Less regulations (although Carter did more than Reagan).

    On immigration, Reagan was pro and Trump con, yet what will really change at the border?

    Monetary policy? My guess is Trump will do a Reagan and want easier rather than tighter.

    On the big economic basics, Trump is a Reagan rerun.

    This does not absolve Trump of his choice of language when discussing Hispanic immigrants or women. Clearly, Reagan was gentleman, and Trump is not.

    Reagan also avoided foreign entanglements, a major plus.


  23. 23 peterschaeffer November 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Shahid, I can not predict what Trump will do or what Congress (plus the courts) will let him do. However, there is a lot he could do to fix the U.S. economy.

    Fiddling with tariffs might not bring to many jobs back. However, Warren Buffet’s plan would be a huge plus. See

    “America’s Growing Trade Deficit Is Selling The Nation Out From Under Us. Here’s A Way To Fix The Problem–And We Need To Do It Now.”

    So would Grove’s. See

    “Andy Grove: How America Can Create Jobs”

    Grove died this year. One of the commentaries on his death, extensively noted his commitment to prosperity in America. See

    “Andy Grove’s Warning to Silicon Valley” Quotes

    “Mr. Grove acknowledged that it was cheaper and thus more profitable for companies to hire workers and build factories in Asia than in the United States. But in his view, those lower Asian costs masked the high price of offshoring as measured by lost jobs and lost expertise. Silicon Valley misjudged the severity of those losses, he wrote, because of a “misplaced faith in the power of start-ups to create U.S. jobs.”

    Mr. Grove contrasted the start-up phase of a business, when uses for new technologies are identified, with the scale-up phase, when technology goes from prototype to mass production. Both are important. But only scale-up is an engine for job growth — and scale-up, in general, no longer occurs in the United States. “Without scaling,” he wrote, “we don’t just lose jobs — we lose our hold on new technologies” and “ultimately damage our capacity to innovate.””

    Another obvious issue is immigration. If America is really doomed to loose less-skilled jobs by the millions, how does it many any sense for the U.S. to encourage low-skill immigration into the U.S.? Let me use construction as an example. Construction was a typical non-college jobs for Americans for decades. Now it is not. Vast numbers of Americans have been pushed out of the construction labor force and into the netherworld of “disability” and opioid addiction. How does this make sense? A few papers on this point.


    “Almost everybody knows that in the past 40 years, the real wages and job prospects for low-skilled men, especially low-skilled minority workers, have fallen. And there is evidence –– although no consensus –– that a rising tide of immigration is partly to blame. Now, a new NBER study suggests that immigration has more far-reaching consequences than merely depressing wages and lowering employment rates of low-skilled African-American males: its effects also appear to push some would-be workers into crime and, later, into prison…..The authors are careful to point out that even without increased immigration, most of the fall in employment and increase in jailed black men would have happened anyway. Nevertheless, the racially disproportionate effects of immigration on employment are striking.”

    “Impact of Immigration In South Carolina” (

    “At the same time that more Latinos are entering South Carolina’s work force, median wages for those at the low-skill end of the spectrum are dropping. According to the USC survey, the median annual earnings for Latinos was $20,400, far below the median earnings for South Carolinians in general. The effects of a larger Latino work force are most evident in specific industries. Construction appears to be the predominant economic activity drawing Latinos to South Carolina: this industry accounts for approximately 38 percent of Latino employment in the USC survey. The survey also found that the median annual wage for Latinos working in construction is $21,840.

    According to U.S. Census data, among construction workers real median earnings for Latinos dropped approximately 12 percent from 2000 to 2005, even as the number of construction workers expanded 181 percent. Black construction labor saw inflation-adjusted earnings fall two percent. It is also surprising to find that total Black employment dropped by 24 percent during the construction boom.”

    There is yet another folly in all of this that is worth mentioning. That is the obsession with “education”. Anyone who looks at the actual numbers knows that the U.S. labor force is not highly educated now and will not be in the future. The media elite is (overwhelmingly) made up of Ivy League / Martha’s Vineyard types who simply can’t image life outside of their bubble. They don’t have any grasp of the average/median skill level or the poor life prospects of people at the median.

    A recent New York Fed newsletter, had some highly germane data. See
    “Human Capital and Education in Puerto Rico”

    The raw years of education don’t look so bad (see the chart)

    However, the truth is far worse. Years of education do not mean education.


    “In fact, in Puerto Rico virtually none (less than 1 percent) of the sampled students scored above level 3, which is generally considered a basic proficiency level, on the PISA test.”

    “The basic achievement level denotes: “Partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade.” As the charts below show, 89 percent of Puerto Rican fourth-graders, and 94 percent of the eighth-graders scored below the basic level in 2015. In contrast, in the nation as a whole 28 percent of NSLP fourth-graders, and 42 percent of the eighth-graders scored below the basic level in 2015. Results in 2011 and 2013 were similar. Thus, mathematics performance of Puerto Rican students lags far behind their mainland peers”

    “In the maps below, we examine how Puerto Rico stacks up against individual states, as measured by the percentage of students scoring at or above the proficient level in NAEP math. Again, Puerto Rico lags dismally behind all states. In fourth-grade math, Alabama and New Mexico are the lowest scoring states as measured by this indicator, with 26 percent and 27 percent of their students, respectively, scoring at or above proficient. In contrast, this number is 0 percent in Puerto Rico. In eighth-grade math, Alabama and Louisiana were the lowest scoring at 17 percent and 18 percent respectively. In contrast, no sampled Puerto Rican eighth-grader scored in the proficient category.”

    Like it or not, Puerto Rico is a model of America’s future, particularly with the Democrats (or the Bush Republicans) in charge. America must be able to create jobs and lives for its own people. The core of the Democratic approach (the party, not the philosophy of government) is to expand the welfare state, obsess over education (which does little more than legitimize the elite), and pretend that “America is Already Great”. The Bush Republican model amounted to almost the same thing.


  24. 24 peterschaeffer November 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    It is very unclear if Hillary actually won the popular vote or not. In truth we will never now. Why? Because illegal voting turns out to be much (much) more common than is generally believed. See “Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections?” ( It turns out that there is essentially no enforcement of the laws that ban non-citizens from voting (even illegal aliens from voting). As a consequence, it appears that large numbers of them do vote. Generally, for the Democrats of course.


  25. 25 David Glasner November 17, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Benjamin, No one knows what Trump has in store for us. But the stock markets seem to be expecting increased inflation, which they like, and which I have been calling for since this blog started. That puts me in a funny situation, almost as funny as the one he is putting his “sound money” supporters in.


  26. 26 David Glasner November 17, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Mr. Schaeffer, According to the latest count that I have seen, Clinton has over 1.3 million more votes than Trump.

    The article you cite has been criticized by many commentators. E.g. here, here, and here.


  27. 27 peterschaeffer November 17, 2016 at 8:19 am

    The Jesse Richman and David Earnest article pointed out the truth. Non-citizens do vote illegally in U.S. elections and that it is very hard to get an accurate count. That was true and still is true. The critics of Richman and Earnest say the same thing but add a conclusion more to their liking. In other words “it is very hard to get an accurate count and therefore the number must be near zero”. That’s irrational. In any case, Richman and Earnest haven’t stood still. See

    “Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections? A reply to our critics.”

    Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections? Our blog post and article on non-citizen voting have reached a wide audience, and have motivated several efforts to dispute our methods and conclusions. Although the criticisms of our work speak to the inherent difficulty of studying individuals who face strong pressures to misrepresent their behaviors, we maintain that our data is the best currently available to answer the question and stand by our finding that some non-citizens have voted in recent elections.

    This response articulates the reasons why (1) attempts to show that the measures we used are not valid or reliable have often actually supported our argument; (2) criticism of the CCES as a survey instrument is off target; and (3) it was appropriate for us to share our findings from the study.

    Why the measures we use are valid and reliable

    One line of criticism focuses on the risk of misrepresentation, response error, or click-through on the survey — the chance that individuals might err when they report that they are non-citizens, registered to vote, or a voter in U.S. elections.

    In anticipation of the objection that the CCES subsample was not representative of non-citizens in the United States, our article includes an appendix that evaluates the validity of non-citizen self-reports. Michael Tesler offered a perceptive rejoinder that used the 2010-2012 panel CCES survey to generate test-rest reliability measures for the non-citizen voting response.

    Tesler found that about 81 percent of self-reported non-citizens in 2012 had indicated they were non-citizens in 2010. This opens an opportunity to focus on these most reliably estimated to be non-citizens. For the 85 respondents who said they were non-citizens in both 2010 and 2012 to actually be citizens would require them to have made the same mistake both years. Either there is systematic bias in the CCES instrument — which raises uncomfortable questions about the validity of other CCES measures, as well — or all or nearly all of these 85 respondents meant to respond that they are non-citizens.

    These “consistent” non-citizens give us a special sample that can test the reliability of the data. If, as some have suggested, responses by self-reported non-citizens that they voted are the result of citizens accidentally claiming to be non-citizens, we should see almost no self-reported votes by consistent non-citizens, or that they vote at a lower level than the overall sample of self-reported non-citizens. However, 10 of the 85 consistent non-citizens indicated that “I definitely voted in the General Election” in 2012: a turnout rate of 11.7 percent. Indeed, this rate is on par with the highest point estimates reported in our article, providing support for our finding that some non-citizens report voting in U.S. elections.

    Non-citizen voters have incentives to misrepresent either their citizenship status or their voting status. After all, claiming to be both a non-citizen and a voter is confessing to vote fraud, and the Federal Voter Registration Application specifically threatens non-citizens who register with a series of consequences. “If I have provided false information, I may be fined, imprisoned, or (if not a U.S. citizen) deported from or refused entry to the United States.” This possible penalty would tend to reduce the proportion of non-citizens voters who would report having voted. Tesler also highlights the 14 individuals who said they were non-citizens in 2012 and voters in 2010. In 2012 their electoral participation rate dropped by a statistically significant 43 percent. A change in self-reported status from citizen to non-citizen predicts a significantly lower probability of voting. Although these numbers are very small, they do suggest evidence of incentives to misrepresent status.

    On the subject of registration status, John Alquist and Scott Gehlbach revisit a point we discuss in the paper—that quite a few non-citizens who say they are registered don’t have a validated registration status. Although they claim that “Richman and Earnest don’t enumerate” this limitation, in fact we do. The 14 non-citizens they discuss with both self-stated registration status and a verified registration are precisely the 11 non-citizens in the second row of Table 1 of our article after our weighting process.

    Concerning validated voters in the 2008 CCES survey, Tesler writes “In fact, any response error in self-reported citizenship status could have substantially altered the authors’ conclusions because they were only able to validate the votes of five respondents who claimed to be non-citizen voters in the 2008 CCES.” An alert reader pointed us to the fact that there is slightly more validated voter data available now for the 2010 CCES. There are seven verified voters among the non-citizens in the 2010 CCES, of whom two stated that they definitely voted in the election, and one indicated “I did not vote.” Three of the others were not asked if they voted, and one selected “I attempted to vote but couldn’t,” which suggests that perhaps a provisional ballot was later accepted.

    Our critics are also overstating the methodological challenge of estimating the frequency of low-probability behaviors from survey items that have some degree of error. If response error accounts for all of our measured non-citizen voting, then why does the percentage who reported voting drop so dramatically from the presidential years (8 percent in 2008, 11.7 percent for consistent non-citizens in 2012) to the midterm year (3.5 percent in 2010) in our study? Why, too, does the portion of non-citizens with a validated vote drop by nearly two-thirds from 4.7 percent in 2008 to 1.3 percent in 2010? These are the patterns one would expect to see if the measures retained validity and non-citizens were a group mobilized more in presidential election years than midterms.

    McCann and Jones-Correa imply that data on campaign contributions of Latino immigrants allow us to assess the construct validity of the CCES measure of voting behavior. They conclude that the presence of only three (0.9 percent) non-green-card-holding non-citizens who report making contributions casts doubt on our finding of non-citizen voting. The problem with this argument is that, even among citizens, there is only a weak association between contributions and voting. ANES data show citizens are six times more likely to report a vote than a contribution.

    Thus there doesn’t appear to be much construct validity even for a large representative sample of citizens. Campaign contributions also are arguably a riskier form of political engagement for non-citizens because donations over $200 to federal campaigns are publicly disclosed. It is not at all surprising that McCann and Jones-Correa find little evidence of campaign contributions among non-citizens. But that doesn’t say anything meaningful about their voting behavior, as they acknowledge in their concluding paragraph.

    Although our estimates of non-citizen registration and voting are higher than previous estimates, this should not be surprising. To our knowledge, ours is the first study to use survey data to estimate non-citizen voting, while other studies have relied upon incidents of detected vote fraud. Estimates of illegal behavior based upon survey data are frequently higher than estimates based upon detection rates. For example, survey-based estimates indicate that more than six percent of the U.S. population over age 12 uses marijuana on at least a monthly basis — a rate more than 15 times the annual arrest rate.

    Why the CCES a useful survey instrument

    Ahlquist and Gehlbach also argue that the CCES is an inappropriate survey to use to analyze the voting behavior of non-citizens. Obviously the CCES wasn’t designed to provide a representative sample of non-citizens. Nonetheless, we believe that we have used the data in an appropriate way.

    According to the discussion of methodology provided with the 2008 CCES, the sampling frame for the study was based upon the 2006 American Community Survey, and the construction of the sampling frame did include citizenship (p.11). It is important to keep in mind, however, the sample matching methodology applied by the CCES. The sampling frame based on citizenship status was merely used to create targets to which the actual sample of panel members was matched.

    As far as we can tell, all other stages of the sampling process were neutral with respect to citizens and non-citizens who had the same demographic characteristics. For example, those in the sampling frame were matched with respondents from the “YouGov/Polimetrix PollingPoint Panel and the E-Rewards and Western Wats panels, using a five-way cross-classification (age x gender x race x education x state).” (p. 11).

    Similarly, citizenship appears to have been ignored (at least in the survey documentation) in the construction of sample weights. If our interpretation is correct, citizens and non-citizens in the panels had an identical chance of being sampled, conditional on having matching demographic characteristics. Furthermore, it appears that no non-citizen in the panels would have had a zero chance of being selected.

    We conclude that although the CCES was not designed to measure non-citizen electoral participation, with appropriate re-weighting–as we did in our article–analyses of non-citizens are valid because the panels from which the actual respondents were drawn contained non-citizens, and non-citizens and citizens with the same characteristics appear to have had an equal probability of being sampled.

    Nevertheless, we agree with critics that the limitations of inferences based upon a single survey make additional surveys desirable. As the American National Election Study (ANES) adds a larger Web survey, it may attain a large enough sample size to be useful. Another survey that could add a vast sample of non-citizens without requiring anything more than a change in its survey script is the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS could easily begin asking non-citizens its current questions about registration and voting behavior.

    Why it is appropriate to share our research findings

    A final criticism concerns how we communicated our findings rather than the findings themselves. As our colleagues have colorfully suggested, our post “contributed to the circus” rather than made sense of it, and they question whether we intended “to provide fuel to the conspiracy theorists” who suspect widespread voter fraud. Ahlquist and Gehlbach even criticize the title of our post, which was not our proposed title. (Editor’s note: Most guest post titles are written by whichever of the main Monkey Cage contributors handles the submitted post.) We trust that our colleagues do not mean to suggest that authors should self-censor findings that speak to contentious debates.

    We acknowledge that the forthcoming midterm election afforded us an opportunity to draw attention to the study. The timing of the publication of our work explains in part the timing of our post (Electoral Studies accepted our piece on Sept. 3 and made it available online on Sept. 21). But this timing also makes clear that we could have published on The Monkey Cage weeks earlier. Because we blogged a mere 10 days before the mid-term elections, as mail-in voting is already underway in many places, our research will likely have no effect on 2014 voter rolls and regulations, and provides ample time for sober assessment and replication before 2016.

    In both our article and blog post we have acknowledged the limitations of our analysis. We continue to welcome criticisms of our methodology and attempts to validate, replicate or refute our study. Knowledge emerges from debate, dialogue and critical examination of findings—processes that are intrinsically contentious. We trust that our colleagues share our appreciation of the value of this debate — and more importantly, of our willingness to engage in it.


  28. 28 peterschaeffer November 17, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Mr. Glasner, I don’t doubt that people satisfied with the status quo, members of the “protected class”, “rootless cosmopolitans”, etc. would prefer “failure”. Others might not.


  29. 29 David Glasner November 17, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Mr. Schaeffer, I find it hard to believe that someone as knowledgeable as you is unaware of the history of the term “rootless cosmopolitan.” Your gratuitous adoption of an anti-semitic Stalinist trope is telling, and I take your addressing it towards me as an outrageous provocation, and I expect an immediate apology.


  30. 30 Tom Brown November 18, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Good article David. Thanks.


  31. 31 Shahid November 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

    @peterscheaffer. I have been reading David’s blog since at least three years. I can vouch for the fact that David has respect for the opinion of the others who post on his blog. Even if he disagrees, he does it in a respectable manner and without offending anyone. So please, i would request you not to take this conversation further anymore. I had read many times that one of the things that Trump has managed to do is to create deep fissures within the US society. Now, i can see a reflection of that truth, right here on this forum.

    I respect your opinion, and David’s. And i am sure you both respect mine. So in your’s and David’s case, let’s just say that you guys agree to disagree. This should be the end of any unpleasantness, please.


  32. 32 peterschaeffer November 23, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Shahid, I would tend to disagree with the thesis that Trump has created deep fissures in U.S. society. It is more true that his successful candidacy for the White House has revealed deep fissures that were already there. Under Bush/Obama/Hillary “politics” amounted to two factions of the elite arguing over (relatively) minor issues while maintaining a consensus on the big topics (trade, immigration, Political Correctness, interventionist foreign policy). Donald Trump crashed the party by bringing real issues into politics.

    To state this directly, Bush/Obama/Hillary were and are far more alike than they would care to admit. They were/are substantively, much closer to each other, than to Trump. The fundamental schism of our time is no longer between the “right” and the “left”, but between ordinary citizens and the cosmopolitan elite. A WaPo headline caught this rather well “The Daily 202: Rust Belt Dems broke for Trump because they thought Clinton cared more about bathrooms than jobs”.

    Were they wrong? Does anyone really think Hillary cared more about jobs than bathrooms? Actually, she did. But only in her determination to outsource/offshore more of them.

    Felix Salmon (of all people) wrote an article on this very point. The title will suffice “The subtle, dangerous way Donald Trump has changed American political discourse – Trump and his kin have effectively rotated the axis upon which we place political candidates.”

    People like Felix Salmon wanted (desperately wanted) politics to continue to be a “Party of Davos” fake family feud. Now real issues are being (at least for the moment) talked about.

    Of course, this isn’t just a U.S. trend. Brexit was a very similar revolt in the UK. The elite (Labor and the Tories) uniformly supported “remain” and waged “Campaign Fear” to protect the status quo. The British people thought otherwise. A similar revolt has already occurred in the Netherlands and the Philippines. Revolts are brewing in Austria, Italy, and even Germany.


  33. 33 Tom Brown November 23, 2016 at 5:07 pm


    Can you tell us now what will change your mind about Trump? What future evidence will cause you to think “I’ve been fooled by a con man?”

    For example, what if he doesn’t bring back any of those jobs you talk about? No steel or coal jobs, and the rust belt just continues to suffer? What if he doesn’t build a wall or reduce illegal immigration? What objective measures can we apply to determine if Trump was a fraud or not?


  34. 34 Tom Brown November 23, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    … and if Trump were to reconstitute Trump University 2.0 and a close relative was convinced it was everything the marking said it was, and wanted to borrow a lot of money to attend, would you encourage them, and loan them the money?


  35. 35 peterschaeffer November 25, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Mr. Brown,

    If President (elect) Trump were to rule like Bush, Obama, or Hillary I would regard him as a failure. Time will tell. So far, the indications are relatively positive. He has announced that he will kill the TPP on day one. That’s a material plus.

    However, there is a deeper point here. No matter what happens to Trump, the forces of real change have arrived. Trump has shown that a candidate can run against Wall Street, the Fortune 500, big money, the media elite, academia, Political Correctness, “the establishment”, etc. and win. People will follow after Trump in the United States and around the world. Indeed, they already have. Brexit won in the UK (thank you Nigel Farage). Rodrigo Duterte broke the power of the Aquinos. The people of the Netherlands voted down the Ukraine referendum. If the polls are correct, real change is coming to Austria and Italy. The situation in Italy is desperate and the Euro/European establishment is paralyzed and clueless about resolving it (Italy’s problems). Renzi is the Herbert Hoover of Italy (except that Hoover was actually elected).

    Using Italy as a case in point… The next steps in Italy may well be a disaster. However, real point is that the neoliberal estabilshment (in Europe and in Italy) has failed and hasn’t the slightest idea of what to do. Instead we have platitudes “soft power”, “the Euro is forever”, “ever deeper union”, “a compassionate Europe”, etc. None of it makes sense and it doesn’t work. However, that’s all the establishment has left.


  36. 36 Henry November 26, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    The election of Trump, along with the Brexit vote, has made the establishment political parties around the globe sit up and think – it is making them realize that they have to recognize the constituencies that lie beyond the narrow interests of big business/big unions/big bureaucracy.

    “You can’t fool all the people all the time.”

    On the other hand, from the nascent Trump administration, is wafting faint whiffs of fascism. It will be interesting to see which way it goes.


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About Me

David Glasner
Washington, DC

I am an economist in the Washington DC area. My research and writing has been mostly on monetary economics and policy and the history of economics. In my book Free Banking and Monetary Reform, I argued for a non-Monetarist non-Keynesian approach to monetary policy, based on a theory of a competitive supply of money. Over the years, I have become increasingly impressed by the similarities between my approach and that of R. G. Hawtrey and hope to bring Hawtrey’s unduly neglected contributions to the attention of a wider audience.

My new book Studies in the History of Monetary Theory: Controversies and Clarifications has been published by Palgrave Macmillan

Follow me on Twitter @david_glasner


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